It's a hell of a town

Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
Trip End Oct 12, 2010

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Where I stayed
St Mark's Studios

Flag of United States  , New York
Monday, September 20, 2010

New York. The last time I visited you, I was seven. And what made the biggest mark on my memory? The Statue of Liberty? Nope. The Empire State Building? Uh Uh.

It was the McDonalds on 5th Avenue that had a baby grand piano and a doorman! To a seven year old, eating your happy meal to the tunes of a baby grand was the ultimate in class.

Fast forward 18 years and while I don't eat McDonalds anymore, New York still amazes me in every way. The food, the museums, the subway, the people. The way you can turn down one street and feel like you're in a completely different world.

We went on a walking tour on the first day, which was a great way to get
a handle on Manhatten. Our guide, born and bread in Brooklyn filled us in on the history of the island as we wandered around Battery Park, Wall Street, the World Trade
Centre site, Soho, East Village, Greenwich Village, China Town, Little Italy and more.

The next few days were spend hitting the museums and galleries. The Museum of Modern Art blew our minds as we wandered through the gorgeous Matisse special exhibition as well as all the famous works in the permanent collection. The Natural History Museum was exciting with loads of interesting displays on space, evolution, animals and of course, dinosaurs. And the Guggenheim, with it's amazing spiral architecture was good (I fell in love with Picasso's Woman with Yellow Hair), but unfortunately half closed to get ready for an upcoming collection.

While I loved the tourist stuff, the real highlight was just hanging about in parks. Central Park is a mammoth oasis amid the hustle and bustle and we spent a good few hours exploring and relaxing there. Washington Square Park, just down the road from our studio, comes alive with buskers - barber shop quartets, drummers, break dancers, and all kinds of musicians - and the park itself is full of NYC students, locals and tourists (read, us) who spend the day lying in the shade and enjoying the music.

Culture shock of the week came when we decided to check out Harlem - to
see the famed Apollo theatre and to wander the streets. We got off the
subway in a decidedly non-tourist area and as a pasty white blonde
Aussie I definitely felt quite out of place as we walked along
(particularly when some guy hit me with his magazine). The bullet proof
windows of fast food stores and the security guard in front on the
toilet at McDonalds were a bit of an eye opener, but it was good to see a
different side of the city from the classic tourist trail we'd been
following up until then.

Other highlights?

* FOOD!  Bagels oozing cream cream, $1 pizza slices as big as your head, fresh sushi, falafel, vege hot dogs, Ethiopian curry, Ben and Jerry's icecream - all washed down with pints of Brooklyn Ale from our local dive bar. Let's all agree that we burned it all off walking around, ok? Ok? Good.

* Hooping! Headed over to New Jersey to hang out with the amazing Ann of the Hoop Path. Got to see the Manhatten skyline from the other side of the river while connecting with some hot NYC hoopers. Really chilled out and lovely time.

* Hitting the Comedy Cellar - where Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams and loads of others got their big breaks. For just 10 bucks, we got a few hours of ridiculously funny stand up by people from Saturday Night Live. Too good.

* Hanging around in our local area! We stayed in St Marks Place in the East Village in a weird little studio space rented out by the local synagogue. We did have to share a bathroom and sleep in bunk beds but it was cheap and the location was amazing. As I mentioned, we had a little dark dive bar just near us where we could drink cool beer after a day of walking around in the heat. Awesome restaurants, interesting clothes shops and loads of tattoo and piecing places (my fave was called Cappuccinos and Tattoos).

Really, we could have spent a month there but duty calls! Ben's back in the UK about to start his Masters in Social and Political Thought, and I'm happily bunkered down in a friends awesome apartment in San Francisco, gearing up for the amazingness of HoopCamp.

Stay tuned for more updates and do check out my photos from NY  on my Facebook page



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